R.E.M.’s Accelerate: First (Second?) Impressions

April 4, 2008 at 9:33 am

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I’m on my third or fourth listen through, and the album will be on repeat ALL day today at work. But I thought I’d share my early thoughts.

The first listen last night. Other than the title, I’m not that into the first song “Living Well is the Best Revenge.” I don’t think it is a good opener, but I think R.E.M. has something to prove on this album and they figure they should come out of the gate full-speed. So I respect them for that, but then I think of some of their best album openers (New Adventures in Hi-Fi’s “How The West Was Won and Where It Got Us” comes to mind) and I think maybe this opener was a little misguided.

However – the next song “Man Sized Wreath” fucking rules. Two and a half minutes – perfect. I realized this song ruled this morning when I was in the bathroom and listening to it and I caught myself trying to sing along to it, even though I’ve only listened to it twice. Peter Buck’s guitar is the driving force on this, and you can hear Mike Mills’ trademark “Aahhhhhhh” background vocals, and Micheal Stipe gives it his all with interjected little “Uhhs” and “Yeahs” and “Wows” between the short, sharp verses.

I just listened to it again.

A few other stand-outs. I listened to it on my way to work, but a noisy motorcycle isn’t the best place to try out a new album. “Houston” may be the most “Around the Sun”-like song, with its opening line “If the storm doesn’t kill me, the government will.” This immediately made me bummed out, but the next line promises a reprieve from the over-politicized lyrics of their last effort – “I’ve got to get that out of my head.” The foreboding organ puts a strange edge to the song, but I’m warming up to it.

“I’m Gonna DJ” was played a lot live – its feels like a b-side from Monster. It is pretty good, pretty silly and really fun. Reminds me of “Departure” or “Revolution.”

Notice anything about these first thoughts? This album reminds me a lot of Monster and New Adventures in Hi-Fi. Both amazing albums. I also want something that reminds me of “Fables of the Reconstruction,” and maybe a few songs do. More impressions later.


Entry filed under: Music.

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